Views from Phanfare CEO and Co-founder Andrew Erlichson

Link My Week with Android: Action Items for Apple

My week with Android is over. I am back to my iPhone. I dropped a call on the way in to work. Good to be back.

I truly believe that Apple has the better product right now. The hardware is smaller, lighter, and more attractive. The software is more intuitive, better polished and better looking.

Nevertheless, Android is gaining momentum. Here are the things that apple must do to address some of the advantages of Android.

  • Solve the dropped call program in the US. I am putting this separately since there is some anecdotal evidence mounting that the problem is not purely related to ATT and that other ATT phones hold calls better.
  • Offer the iPhone on Verizon. Verizon is the strongest carrier in the US. Nearly everyone I meet that owns an Android-based Verizon phone tells me they would have chosen an iPhone over an Android device had it been available.
  • Include turn by turn navigation on the iPhone built in. This will require an enormous capital outlay to get permanent and unfettered access to the dataset needed. Navteq is owned by Nokia. So that is pretty much out of the question for Apple. Tele Atlas is owned by Tom Tom. Tom Tom’s market cap is only (Euros) 1.09B. Apple should just buy them and include as much of their tech as possible in iPhones. Mapping and navigation are core to smart phones and Apple needs to remove the dependency on Google.
  • Better integrate voice-to-text on the iPhone. Being able to hit the microphone button in all contexts (SMS, email) and include a sentence by voice is very convenient on the Droid X. Apple could possibly license the tech from Nuance, or buy Nuance for stock. Voice is a critical part of the mobile experience.
  • Provide Mobile Me (email, contacts, calendar) for free for Apple customers. One of the best things about the Android experience is the tight support between Gmail and Android. There are built in Calendar and Gmail apps for Android that integrate better with Google’s services than Apple’s Mail and Calendar program do. Phanfare uses Google Apps and I will miss the built in apps.
  • Provide a 3G mobile hot-spot for the iPhone. Can cost extra. I wound up trying Android because I continued to maintain an Verizon MiFi for business when I switched from ATT to the iPhone. When the Droid X started shipping with the mobile hot spot, I realized that for maybe $20/month more, I could move service from the MiFi to the Droid X and have not only a mobile hot spot when traveling but also a verizon phone for calling. I realize the mobile hotspot will kill the battery. That’s ok.

If Apple addresses these issues, I believe that Android momentum will stall. Long run, Android may still win with their multi-vendor low-cost approach. But it will take a lot longer if Apple takes care of these items.

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  • Ronald Meaux

    Andrew, quick question: What is the primary difference between Phanfare and MobileMe Gallery? I am paying for both services but there seems to be lots of overlap. Thanks.

  • erlichson

    phanfare has a better web organizing experience, no 20GB limit, better
    iphone and ipad support and stronger video offerings. but there are lots of
    overlap, so it all depends on what you like.

    apple is not particularly focused on the mobile me photo experience in my
    opinion. we are focused on photography. with focus comes better tools.

  • Francois

    You started your trial week with “We have quite a few customers complaining that we ignore Android. It’s true. [...] But it’s been a few years and it’s time to at least learn how the other half lives.”

    You have concluded that you prefer the iPhone 4, which is fair enough, but that Andriod also has some strong points (highlighted in this post).

    So what we want to know is… (and what I thought you were going to tell us by the end of this week), is Phanfare going to build an Android app? This surely was one of the reasons for your trial: to asses whether Android was a worthy platform for your company to invest some development effort into an app. Any conclusion on that aspect?

  • erlichson

    My conclusion is that the platform has good momentum, is good enough and is lower cost than the iPhone.

    I believe we will someday need to create an app for Android. But, we are not a huge company today and we will be better off have having an amazing experience on one platform vs. a so-so experience on two.

    Hence, my conclusion is that for now, we should not develop an Android App. With 85MM iOS devices out there, it's not like iPhone penetration is limiting our growth.

    That said, our customers are asking for Android and I am not deaf to that. We will periodically revisit the decision.

    Long story short: someday, but not today.

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